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Head of the Class

   With my wife in the hospital suffering from exhaustion (she's fine now) and Grandma out of town, I was left with two options: take the day off or bring my three-year-old son to work. (If a Member of Congress can do it . . .)

   Anyways, I sent this photo to my family and all everyone wanted to know was why the girls were wearing surgical masks.

   Could be a number of things, I wrote back:

1. They may have a cold and don't want it to spread. (Thoughtful.)

2. They don't want to catch another person's cooties. (Paranoid.)

3. They have hay fever and are trying to keep it from worsening. (Probably too late.)

4. They are trying to avoid breathing in the smog that China exports to us along with other low-cost, high-externality crap. (Understandable, but most likely meaningless.)

5. They have herpes. (Gotcha. Keep the mask on.)

6. Or, they have merely overslept and didn't have time to put their faces on. The girls are too embarrassed to show their face. (Now, you'd think it would be more embarrassing to wear a silly mask like that in public, but what do you know, you silly gaijin?)


   A few days later, I asked the two girls in the photo why they had been wearing masks that day and learned that it was, as I expected, because they hadn't been wearing make-up. "What's the big deal," I said. "I'm not wearing make-up now!"
   This is a fairly new phenomenon: young women in Japan didn't use to do it, say, five years ago. You may read into that what you like.

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